Prologue: Ancient History
During the Krytan Wars and the rise of the White Mantle (approximately around 1080 AE), there were many people who fell victim to oppression and devastation. Driven from their homes, those lucky enough to escape the clutches of the White Mantle with their lives banded together and settled on the outskirts of the great Maguuma Jungle. Though word eventually reached the small refugee camp that the war had ended and the White Mantle scattered, the people still feared the possibility that small groups of White Mantle might find them.
Scouts were sent out into the jungle to search for a safe place to call home and many weeks passed before they returned with news. Hidden deep within the wilds some ancient ruins were discovered that fit the needs of the refugees. After a short time, the refugees were ready to move and secure their new home. The work went quickly with every able person helping to clear the ruins and in a month, the ruins were transformed into a stronghold where the people could live in safety. Whispered rumors of a hidden sanctuary, named “The Gryphon's Aerie”, which offered refuge to all who sought it spread throughout Kryta and the people began to trickle in. Some of these names are remembered through the writings of the blind ritualist, Sascha Brooks, who took up the mantle of lorekeeper for the rag-tag group.
For many years, The Aerie, as it was nicknamed, flourished. Yet, as peace took over Tyria, the stronghold's need started to wane. In time, as fewer and fewer sought refuge within the walls, the Aerie returned to the ruins it was built on. Time ticked by and eventually even the memory of it faded away. No living soul remembered the safe haven. The only clues to the history were countless rolled scrolls and thick tomes sealed away within stone tombs; waiting for a day when the Aerie would be needed once again.
Chapter 1: Rediscovery
Aria Silverfyre and her sister, Shae, were a pair of small time thieves with a ragtag street gang they called friends. After being set up by a rival street gang in Divinity's Reach, the pair of sisters found themselves wanted by the Seraph and were forced into hiding. They headed west from Divinity’s Reach in search of a safe haven. Their travels took them all the way into the dusty wastes of the once lush Maguuma Jungle, where they came across some ruins. Realizing that it was once home to humans, they set about turning it into a place where they could be safe. The Aerie appealed to them both as a safe haven and a place full of valuable resources: spiritwood, deldrimor steel, damask and more.
The sisters sent messages to others of their gang, inviting them to join them at their new hideout. By word of mouth, a few more people came to "The Aerie", as the sisters learned what the stronghold was once called from what they could make out on the dusty scrolls contained in the ancient walls, and were welcomed. The one problem the sisters and their friends encountered was difficulty obtaining supplies in their new hideout.
To tackle this issue, the sisters and their friends went to Lion’s Arch, meeting clandestinely with suppliers in The Undermarket of Houligan’s Route. Because of their status as wanted criminals, they could not use altogether conventional (aka legal) methods, so they used the pirates of Lion’s Arch to get the supplies they needed. Bundling everything up, the sisters and their friends set out on a caravan headed back to The Aerie. They had added quite a few to their number, with mercenaries, hunters, and scholars that were interested in what The Aerie had to offer. In several cases, the sisters had told individuals of the riches waiting at The Aerie in order to gain the supplies they needed.
Unfortunately for the sisters, their words worked up a bit higher on the food chain than they expected. After returning to Lion’s Arch to pick up the last bit of supplies, Aria received a letter from the Arch Exchange of Lion’s Arch. The Arch Exchange, although small, is the most important financial institution in Tyria. Very popular due to providing a fair inter-species trade as well as supporting the pirates of Lion's Arch, the organization had more than enough assets to secure The Aerie as their own, barring the sisters’ return. The sisters were furious, but had little recourse against such a powerful institution. Aria broke the news to their collected friends and colleagues and vowed to find a way to get The Aerie back.
Chapter 2: Lost and Found
In an effort to find out what was going on at The Aerie while still working on reclaiming the land itself, the sisters decided to split up. Shae, along with a few trusted friends, would head to The Aerie to see what was going on, while Aria, ever the leader of the ragtag group, would stay behind and work on things from that angle.
Aria started recruiting under the banner of the Gryphon’s Aerie and posted notes around Tyria. In most places (where the Seraph could see), she had to be very cautious, but in other places, like the Black Citadel and Rata Sum, she could be more obvious. The group started doing mercenary jobs, gathering treasure, and basically trying to earn enough money to purchase The Aerie back from the Arch Exchange. Somewhere along the way though, The Aerie earned a stellar reputation by helping protect areas like the Almuten Estates and fighting off centaurs in the Harathi Hinterlands.
As its reputation grew so did the numbers of The Aerie. With its newfound popularity though, Aria took a step back and had some lieutenants take over the day to day workings of the group. Again, her status as a wanted criminal could certainly be a liability. Meanwhile, Aria waited to hear back from her sister. Shae, while younger and more reckless, never went long without sending a missive back to Aria… but months had passed.
What had happened?
Chapter 3: Bittersweet Resolutions
Days grew shorter, and winter came again to Tyria. Aria grew increasingly worried for the fate of her sister. Letters were sent out to the Gryphons to gather at Bay Haven, an easily accessible Lionguard-run fort for keeping travelers safe. Stepping out of the shadows, Aria, too, made an appearance. After much catching up, they decided that now it was high time to recover their lost comrades from the caravan that had gone west.
It was a charr gladium by the name of Skar the Wraith who eventually came forward claiming to know their fate. His price, however, for divulging that information was cause for concern. The Gryphons were tasked with retrieving a mysterious scroll, from a sealed chest, on an abandoned pirate ship, floating in a hidden location. Without much choice in the matter, however, they faithfully completed their task while subduing ghostly pirates, dodging booby-traps, and crossing narrow chasms.
Skar was impressed, he took the scroll, and for that, he told the story about how centaurs attacked Shae's caravan. Niko, her bodyguard, fought as bravely as he could, but the beasts outnumbered them. He fell, seriously injured, and feigned death to avoid any further harm, but Shae was dragged away kicking and screaming, apparently being taken as a slave to one of the various centaur camps in the Hinterlands. A cloaked group descended on the injured Niko, and carried him away. Skar finished his tale by saying that the bodyguard should have more information, and that they should look for him, recovering, in Ebonhawk. With that, he disappeared.
The Gryphons of the Aerie decided to go two directions. While some would travel to Ebonhawk and find Niko, several members began the arduous task of scouring the Hinterlands centaur camps looking for any signs of Shae. They battled through wave after wave of centaurs, freeing various slaves, assisting the beleaguered Seraph forces, all the while searching every nook and cranny for anything belonging to the missing Silverfyre sister.
Going on what bits of information they had regarding possible sightings of someone fitting Shae's description, the Gryphons headed toward a centaur camp in the north east area of the Hinterlands. Aria did her best to keep her head clear and steady, despite the fear and worry that kept trying to take hold, as she lead the team in the search. After a long stretch of skirmishes with the centaurs and freeing more slaves, the Gryphons came to the final slave holding pen of the camp.
After a short pause to compose herself and catch her breath, Aria gave the signal to break down the door. It gave easily and the group stepped inside, completely unprepared for what they would see. In a far corner, Shae's twisted body lay partially covered by a tattered, thin blanket. Aria sank to her knees and held back an agonizing scream. Several of the Gryphons went to her side, while the others went to retrieve Shae's body. Numbness swept over Aria as she dragged herself to her feet, her duty to the group stronger than her grief for the moment.
The return to the Gryphons of the Aerie basecamp was somber and uneventful. While the funeral preparations were taken care of, Aria kept herself secluded from everyone. She watched from the shadows as Shae was sent to the Mists. As the last of the embers died down, Aria walked away and vanished, leaving care of her band with her chosen Lieutenants until a time when she might choose to return and take the helm once again.
Chapter 4: A Thickened Plot
Several months passed before any sign of Aria was received by the rest of the Gryphons. A short missive was sent asking the band to make their way to Fort Salma with great caution, more trouble was brewing. The group gathered quickly and headed to the location only to realize that getting in would be a little harder than they had thought. With some effort, they managed to get through the thick vines sprouted by Mordremoth, only to end up confronted by a Seraph Corporal called Summers.
Strangely, Corporal Summers didn't know the exact charges, nor the accusor, but planned to hold them based only on his orders. After some negotiation, the Corporal agreed to bring the Gryphons to Claypool to speak with his captain as long as the Gryphons came peacefully. Upon reaching Claypool, the band of Gryphons stormed right up to Captain Lindel to get some answers.
Captain Lindel hesitated for a few minutes. The warrant she had seemed to be signed by Logan Thackeray himself and gave her the authority to arrest and hold the Gryphons in Divinity's Reach without telling them what they were being held for. That law was old and archaic, however, and most Seraph chose to avoid causing further issues because of it.
The accusations, Captain Lindel revealed, were assisting and financially backing Seperatist forces in and around Ebonhawk, a city known for its civilian unrest and upheaval ever since negotiations for peace began between Humans and Charr. The Gryphons denied the charges and stated that anyone was welcome to join them, regardless of their race, pointing out the Charr standing with them at that moment as an example.
After further negotiations, Captain Lindel agreed to let the Gryphons go to Ebonhawk to search for more information, but only if her assistant went along with them. The Gryphons agreed and made their way to Ebonhawk by Asura Gate from Divinity's Reach. They took some time to figure out their next move once they arrived, ultimately deciding the local tavern would be the best place to gather some information. Would they be able to find out enough?